martes, 29 de enero de 2013

Meet Stuart Sutcliffe’s Beatles

Photo by Craig Schwartz
Before his audition for the musical Backbeat, British actor Nick Blood had never sung in front of a live audience. He had never picked up a bass with the intention of playing. Still, he managed to win the role of Stuart Sutcliffe, the so-called “fifth Beatle,” in the show’s London debut in 2011. Now, in a pre-Broadway run of the work based on a 1994 film, Blood helps bring the story of John, Paul, George, Pete (Best, the original drummer) and Stuart to the Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.
The show, which features songs including “Twist and Shout” and “Love Me Do,” opens Jan. 30 and runs through March 1. Blood, a veteran TV actor in Great Britain, spoke with Los Angeles Downtown News about his petrifying first Backbeat song, his affinity for American punk music and an aversion to musicals.
Los Angeles Downtown News: Before Backbeat, you had no experience singing and couldn’t play an instrument. How did you land the job?
Nick Blood: When I first got the audition, I thought, “I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I don’t do any of that.” But my manager said, “It’s not a musical. It’s a play that’s got live music in it.” I read the script and thought, “Of course I can do this.” I can’t play an instrument, so there were no expectations [from the producers]. I think that kind of helped because they knew I wasn’t trying to pull the wool over their eyes. I basically just had a good time. They spent about 20 minutes teaching me a little bass lesson and I just went for it. They thought I had it in me to learn. And I think I faked them as well. Every night I had to go home and practice, practice, practice.
Q: What was it like walking out onto the stage on opening night?
A: I was pretty petrified. It was quite terrifying because there were family, friends and industry people there.
Q: What terrified you the most?
A: I had to sing one verse of a song. I was really off pitch and everything. I’ve pretty much got it down now. It took me months to get over the fear of singing in front of an audience.
Q: Growing up, were you a Beatles fan?
A: My dad grew up in Liverpool and he was a big fan. I grew up listening to them in the car and, you know, you can’t help it. I wasn’t fanatical about them. I listened to all sorts of music. But the play has made me appreciate them a lot more: where they came from, their history, the way they pushed music forward, the drive they had to do it.
Q: What music did you listen to growing up?
A: Nirvana was the first band that I really got into when I was about 11. I liked mostly American punk and grunge bands — bands like Rancid. I started working at an independent record store when I was about 16. I liked the Stone Roses and The Clash. There’s a band called the Crystal Fighters that I love. I also like hip-hop.
Q: Not many people know Sutcliffe’s story, and it’s been 19 years since the Backbeat movie. How did you prepare for the role?
A: There are so many books written about The Beatles, but not many people actually knew them during that time. I think I’ve probably read every word written about Stuart Sutcliffe. But there isn’t any footage of Stu. [Instead] you have to go with the script that is in front of you.
Q: Were you satisfied with your performance?
A: Pauline Sutcliffe [Stuart’s sister] came to see the show a few times in London and she was pretty complimentary. That was really the greatest compliment I could have gotten.
Q: Now that you’ve picked up music, do you plan to pursue musicals?
A: Musicals aren’t my bag. They’re not my thing. I’d probably like to do some film. 
Q: You’ve recently started playing bass in a band. When you’re on stage do you channel your inner Sutcliffe?
A: Nah, I’m just myself. I’m a bit more lively than Stu was. I get into the music a bit more and bounce around a bit more.
Backbeat runs through March 1 at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 628-2772 or
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2012
by Kirsten Quinn

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